Saturday, April 14, 2007

Saturday, before the storm

Cherry buds (click to enlarge)

(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

I went into Prospect Park today for a little birding as tomorrow's deluge will probably rule out any outdoor activities. I also wanted to check on the Ravine hawk nest.

Sleepy sapsucker

(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

In 5 hours I only managed to cover the northeastern half of the park. Much of that time was spent around the Vale of Cashmere, where it was still pretty active. There weren't any really obvious changes in Prospect Park at this point in the migration. The sapsucker that I noticed yesterday was in the exact same spot on the side of the Atlas Cedar. Maybe he was protecting his valuable sap wells. He didn't stand a chance against a squirrel that wanted to partake in the sweet sap. The squirrel chased off the bird then licked at the sticky ooze beneath the fresh holes. Also at the vale was a small flock of Cedar Waxwings perched in a Higgin Cherry tree. They nervously took turns descending to a shallow puddle at the edge of the north pool to drink and bathe.

Cedar Waxwing (click to enlarge)

(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

There was one Pine Warbler in the vale that I spotted foraging on the ground among the sparrows. It made me wonder if he was the individual that survived the winter by hanging around the Breeze Hill bird feeders with the sparrows. Three of four more Pine Warblers and a single Yellow-rumped Warbler were in the woods on the east side of the Upper Pool.

One early sighting for the park was of a Rose-breasted Grosbeak near the Vale of Cashmere. It was a male bird and, perched only about 7 feet above the ground, he was "squeaking" frequently. I followed him for a few minutes and he appeared to be the only grosbeak present. I also spotted my first catbird of the season. I probably would have walked right passed him had he not been "mewing". He was foraging on the ground among some hyacinths near the back entrance to the zoo (near the Dongan Oak memorial).

I saw more individual butterflies today than is recent days, but they're still just Cabbage Whites and Mourning Cloaks.

On my way from the vale to the Midwood, I passed a small patch of annual blue wildflowers. I'm not certain what they are but have been told that they are a non-native ornamental. There were very small bees feeding on the nectar of the minute, blue flowers. I lied down on the ground, with my face at bee level. The pollen baskets on the bee's legs were heavy with dark-blue pollen.

Bee and blue blossoms (click to enlarge)

(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

I was walking through the north end of the Midwood when something on the ground caught my eye. Many undesirable trees have been cut down in the forest as part of a woodland restoration project. In some sections it has opened the canopy allowing more sunlight to stream down onto the forest floor. Near the bottom of the stairway that leads to Rick's Place the sun shone down on a small, green and orange object. I was a rock covered in moss and sprouting fine, hair-like filaments. Through my camera's lens, from inches away, it looked like a microscopic forest from a Dr. Seuss story.

Moss covered rock

(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

Moss spore caps (click to enlarge)

(Photo credit - photographer)

Before leaving the park I walked to the Ravine red-tail nest. When I arrived Alice was sitting on the nest. I set up my scope and watched for about an hour, hoping to catch a glimpse of her mate. My 60 minutes below the nest were uneventful. The weather reports about the nor'easter sounded serious. Alice and Ralph have been using the same nest for 4 years and it seems to have held up well. My real concern was with Big Mama and Junior in Green-Wood Cemetery. They are using a new nest and it is in a very exposed location. In my mind, I envision a distressed Big Mama desperately trying to protect her eggs as the wind and rain batters the nest tree. I hope she rides out the storm unscathed.

American Elm keys (click to enlarge)

(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

- - - - -

Prospect Park, 4/14/2007
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Red-tailed Hawk (2. One on Ravine nest.)
Laughing Gull
Belted Kingfisher (Ravine.)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (Several.)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Vale of Cashmere.)
Northern Flicker
Eastern Phoebe (2.)
Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Flying over Upper Pool.)
Tufted Titmouse (Vale of Cashmere.)
White-breasted Nuthatch (Vale of Cashmere.)
Carolina Wren (Vale of Cashmere.)
Gray Catbird (Underbrush along edge of fence near zoo's back entrance.)
Northern Mockingbird (Long Meadow.)
Cedar Waxwing (8-10, Vale of Cashmere.)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (1, woods behind Upper Pool.)
Pine Warbler (1, Vale. 3, wood behind Upper Pool.)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (1 male, Vale of Cashmere.)
Fox Sparrow (15-20, Vale of Cashmere.)
White-throated Sparrow (Common, Vale of Cashmere.)
Dark-eyed Junco
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
American Goldfinch

Other common species seen (or heard):
Mallard, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, American Robin (Abundant.), European Starling, Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow

Rubrus vine

(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

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